At least 10,770 empty FEMA house trailers were parked in Hope, Ark., while 16,500 families made homeless by hurricanes in the Gulf Coast were evicted from their hotel rooms in the last few weeks.

A concerned Arkansas schoolteacher told the World that she saw many more trailers parked by the interstate highway. “We had noticed them before Christmas,” she said. “Why don’t they take them on down there to New Orleans?” She added, “I’m concerned about where my tax dollars are going. They’re being wasted by this. I think they underestimate the common Joe’s intelligence — it’s like they thought we wouldn’t understand what was going on.”

Tracy Young of Arkansas posted her thoughts to a Mississippi online forum. “I live about 35 miles from Hope where FEMA is paying $25,000 a month to keep these trailers here at the airport,” she wrote. “People in Miss-La have had no home now for five-plus months, how awful! My son is working in Mississippi and he says it is just pitiful, some of the living conditions.

“I don’t know what it will take to deliver these manufactured mobile homes but we need to get with it,” Young continued, “and quickly or soon we will have a new burden for the taxpayers: sickness! The only reason I’ve been given by anyone is that they can’t be moved due to paperwork. Let’s do the paperwork! …Get some hard working good ’ol country boy down there and he can get things going, I’ll bet you!”

Officials in St. Bernard Parish, La., are so desperate for help they started taking trailers without FEMA authorization, KTHV Little Rock reports.

Arkansas Congressman Mike Ross (D) has written three letters to FEMA asking why the trailers are still in Hope. He said, “In a matter of weeks, we built military bases in Iraq, in a land far, far away. If we can do that, we should have the resources here at home to get people who lost their homes, five months after the storm, get them out of hotel rooms, out of cars, out of tents and get them into these manufactured homes.”

Ross told the Los Angeles Times, “It cost $431 million and they’re all sitting there, 75 percent of them literally parked in a cow pasture. They are brand-new, all totally furnished, and yet people have been living in tents for five months in a row. It just makes you sick to your stomach.”

FEMA maintains that the thousands of hurricane survivors ousted from hotel rooms when the government stopped paying for them will receive federal assistance they can use for housing. Attorneys for the evacuees say those vouchers will not be sufficient to obtain reasonable accommodations.

Meanwhile, the trailers, for which the government paid $431 million, are left to deteriorate while security guards watch over them.

Comments

comments

MOST POPULAR